“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God…” (Philippians 4:6)
Prayer in the Bible involves the dialogue between God and people, especially His covenant partners.
God is easily approachable, God is for all, God is to be praised, God needs no ritualistic ornamentation. He wants fellowship with you. He wants you to communicate with Him. 1 Cor. 12:9
Prayer is not to be offered to impress others. Jesus did not reject group prayer, but His warning might apply to a believer who prays to impress people (Matthew 6:5-6). Jesus also prohibited long-winded attempts that try to manipulate God. While Jesus prayed for long periods of time (Luke 6:12; Mark 1:35) and repeated Himself (Mark 14:36-42), He called for people to trust their Father and not their own eloquence or fervor.
Jesus’ persistence in prayer is linked to the inbreaking kingdom (Luke 11:5-28; 18:1-8). God is not like the reluctant neighbor, even though Christians may have to wait for answers (Luke 11:13; 18:6-8).
The ironies of prayer are evident: God knows our needs, yet we must ask; He is ready to answer, yet we must patiently persist. Children of the Kingdom will have their requests heard (Matthew 6:8; 7:7-11; 21:22; John 14:13; 15:7,16; 16:23; compare 1 John 3:22; 5:14; James 1:5), particularly believers gathered in Jesus’ name (Matthew 18:19).
Calling upon God’s name ~ prayer ~ is the first act and true mark of a believer (Acts 2:21; 9:14, 21; 22:16).
FIVE FINGERED PRAYER
1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”
2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keep them in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need God’s guidance.
4. The forth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need your prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
5. And lastly comes our little finger – the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to God and others. As the Bible says, “The least shall be the greatest among you.” Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
Faith is a condition for answered petitions (Mark 11:24). Two extremes must be avoided concerning faith. 1) With Jesus’ example in mind we must not think that faith will always cause our wishes to be granted. 2) We must not go through the motions of prayer without faith. Believers do not receive what they pray for because they pray from selfish motives (James 4:2-3). Prayers are also hindered by corrupted character (James 4:7) or injured relationships (Matthew 5:23-24).
Dialogue is what is essential to prayer. Prayer makes a difference in what happens (James 4:2). Our understanding of prayer will correspond to our understanding of God. When God is seen as desiring to bless (James 1:5) and sovereignly free to respond to persons (Jonah 3:9), then prayer will be seen as dialogue with God. God will respond when we faithfully pursue this dialogue. Prayer will lead to a greater communion with God and a greater understanding of His will.
Pray for a “grace of prayer” to fall upon you. Praise God for what He is bringing about, and ask Him to take you further.
As I have traveled, I am excited by what I see God doing in people’s lives. He is giving them a continually increasing hunger for prayer! He can do it in you and in your church, too.
It is no simple task to become a powerful house of prayer. Satan will fight every step of the way. Jesus spoke of “new wine” that could not be contained in “old wineskin’s.” So break the traditional mold for prayer in your life and in the life of your church. Get “radical” and aim precisely at what our Lord has set before us. Strive to become a powerful house of prayer that brings God’s people into alignment with His principles and spreads the truth for His glory.
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” (Colossians 4:2)